Monthly Archives: May 2013

Reality/HUMANITY…the Crux of Morality: My response to Patti’s beautiful comment (from the post “Appealing to Your Spiritual Gifts (Part One)”

Patti,

Thanks for visiting!  And thank you for your kind words.

I’m sorry to hear of the torment your daughter had to face at the hands of this kind of mysticism.  Really, it is a terrible shame, and thank you, yes, I will do everything I can to protect my own girls from this kind of subjective teaching.  Though they are only very young, I have already started to introduce the idea that “not all Christian’s think this way or that”.  I have made it clear that they are equally human in all respects in the eyes of God, that they are free to pursue whatever likes or interests or fields of study they choose, up to and including ministry; and that God’s intention for ALL humans is that they “have life more abundantly”.

Now, that abundant life can never occur within the confines of someone’s subjective idea of what constitutes a proper “role”.  Hence, the inherent oppression and exploitation of “complementarianism”.  People were not created nor meant nor designed to fill abstract “laws” or “roles”, and that is why the fall was so egregious.  People were designed to be fully THEMSELVES; not to redefine themselves according to what amounts to purely theoretical “standards”.  Christ is truly “good news” precisely because He set people free from the bondage of absolute ideas (like “roles”) that are mutually exclusive to THEIR INDIVIDUAL reality.

This has been a difficult idea for me to get across; mostly people think I’m a heretic or that I’m for moral relativism.  Even people who share my disgust and disdain for Calvinism do not yet likewise confirm this point; and unfortunately, some of the best I know still concede that the root of man’s metaphysical truth is found somewhere outside of himself; that is, is wholly exclusive to man, which is an impossible contradiction.

Anyway, I may be a heretic (I CRAVE being a heretic in the eyes of Calvinist’s…for their gospel is truly false), but I am no moral relativist.  I merely submit that morality is not EXTERNAL to the INDIVIDUAL.  That is, it is not some sort of external abstraction, which is nothing more than the Law we were freed from by Christ.

My point is that morality is always and inexorably bound in the fullness of the INDIVIDUAL human; meaning that violations of human freedom to own their bodies, minds, and property is THE crux of morality (or IMmorality, as it were).  LIFE is God’s purpose; and all the “Law” can do, or other theoretical absolutes, is enslave man to a wholly mutually exclusive reality, which will always lead to human destruction.  People are free to be who they are and do what they do without fear of condemnation from God as long as they do not violate the life of another or God or even their OWN body (why Paul commands us not to seek the company of prostitutes…it is a violation of our own self; which is as great a sin as a violation of another).  Again, like God, man’s perfect morality was “himself” as a direct descendant of God; and he violated this when he sold his birthright for a false moral standard of “good and evil” which he could never, ever keep because it was utterly theoretical; exclusive to his own physical reality.

This is not easy to explain, but the point is that NO human is bound to follow a law which is external to THEIR OWN WILL; because there can be no separation between a human and their will; they are wholly, categorically, and inexorably bound; and any violation of man’s will is a violation of man’s SELF, and this makes God a hypocrite…which He is not, which is why determinism in ANY form is a lie…man can NEVER be determined apart from himself, not even in “election” or “predestination”; if man’s will is not considered in ALL that makes up his life, then man HIMSELF cannot exist.  There is NO condemnation for being who one is and who one choose to be, again as long as this does not violate the same “right” to life as another person.

There are no “roles” for people any more.  There is no moral “standard” outside of perfection in Christ that people who accept Christ must conform to (justified apart from the Law).  There is no abstract construct which defines them.  People are defined by themselves.  Not the the cultures or historical contexts to which the HUMAN authors of scripture belonged, not the “sound doctrine” of the neo-Cals or anyone else for that matter, no political affiliation, not age, not color or race or sex, or what they like to wear or eat or how they color their hair..but THEY are GOOD.  Period.

Any other message always leads to exploitation and tyranny.  It is the tyranny of absolutes (and this is why I’m currently railing against the implicit idea of “collective” found in the neo-reformed ideology of the “local” church; this is nothing but Marxism with a spiritual costume).  We would do best to realize that all reality and morality is driven by what is actually REAL.  And what is real is HUMANITY.

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My Response to Wade Burleson Concerning Total Inability/Depravity and the Idea of Degrees of Sin, With a Focus on Sexual Deviancy

The following is a brief exchange I had with Wade Burleson on Wartburg Watch.  For the full context of the conversation, please see Wartburg Watch, E-Church post for 5.26.2013.

I want to post this because I think it is a great illustration of how even those pastors with good hearts and the best of intentions are ultimately thwarted in their ability to truly empathize (in my opinion) because they are perpetually ham-stringed by the inconsistent and incongruent doctrines they hold.  For those pastors like Wade, who seem to have good intentions and sympathy for victims of church hyper-authoritarian abuse, the intention of my responses to him was not to denigrate them, but to illustrate how they must actually suspend their doctrine, or outright contradict it in order to truly relate to people, and victims in particular.  Wade suggests that I misrepresented his beliefs; and while I did apologize for possibly misrepresenting what he thinks, I stand by my assertion that what he thinks is not consistent with the doctrinal beliefs his own church website confirms.  Specifically, in the area of Calvin’s first and most egregious false theological point:  total depravity.

Total depravity is wholly evil because it does, in fact, create a system of moral relativism for both man and God.  There can be no true good or evil in the world if man is, in fact, totally depraved.  This a point I have made before on my blog and on others, and is yet to be refuted.  And this what I believe Wade and other neo-reformed/Calvinist pastors miss, and what I was trying to convey to him.  Whether or not I succeeded remains to be seen.  However, I must confess that I hold out little hope.  It seems that reformed Christians are unusually reticent to concede that a world view based on the idea that all truth is a function of self-contradictory and mutually exclusive ideas with no anchor in the existential reason which hems in man’s life and world–by God’s purposeful design, I might add–is, in reality, NO truth at all.

At any rate, here is the brief three post exchange:

Argo:

With all due respect to Wade, what he is saying is that God is no respecter of persons when it comes to sexual deviants. There is no difference to God between a grown single man and grown single woman consenting to sex outside of marriage and a man raping a child. Both are equal sins to God, who does not equivocate on sin of any kind,really. And this is the root of his doctrinal problems, in my opinion. It is functionally moral relativism.

The fact that Wade labels sex with a child as a “crime against humanity” is a difficult idea to square with the reformed idea that God alone is responsible for any “good” we do which He will accept; otherwise known as Total Depravity. It isn’t rational to declare that there can be a “crime” against that which is perpetually deserving of divine punishment as a root function of its existence.

It is commendable that Wade believes that those guilty of violating civil law should be held accountable, but it is not particularly consistent with his theology. The problem with neo-reformed theology is precisely what Wade admits above: to God, ALL sin is the same sin, since the root of the human condition is depravity and wickedness. A victim of a crime is never in a moral position to judge or condemn his or her abuser because, again, to God, there is no functional difference between the depravity of both people. The ONLY option a victim has is to extend forgiveness, not because they understand that love is the most important commandment, but because they must acknowledge that their own pain and suffering is just as much proof of the fallen human condition as the abusive behavior of the perpetrator.

See, when the human being becomes tangential to the holistic evil which categorically defines them, there can be no rational distinction between good and evil in a human’s life. Calvinism is evil precisely because it makes morality relative. ALL of man’s existential context is EVIL; thus, there can be no “right” or “wrong” in our lives as far as God is concerned. And this is why no victim can ever expect to see true justice done in a reformed church. They need to recognize that evil is REAL, and that evil is the willful actions of the ABUSER, which is proven by the wicked outcome of UNJUST pain and suffering on the part of the abused. The abused has an audience with God; and they have every right in the world to demand justice upon the perpetrator, to declare his deeds objectively evil, and to avoid him forever. But you won’t get that at Wade’s church I suspect because it is not his doctrine. If you are “bitter” because your abuser is admitted into the church where you go and is given equal deference by the doctrine the preach (that we are all just the same little sinners before God) then I submit that there will never be the kind of vigilance which needs to be maintained when in the company of rank abusers. The doctrine doesn’t even allow us to declare people actually psychologically abnormal. For what is abnormal? Why, it is merely “sin”. And we all have that.

This goes back to my original response on the other thread in which I declare that what Wade meant to say is that it really does not matter what a person does or does not do in God’s sovereign and determined “plan”; for good and evil for the totally depraved are relative only, and so there can be no real condemnation or judgement for any “sin”. For sin is merely THE synonym for being human. And it is, of course, hypocritical (in Calvin’s theology) for one person to judge the person-hood of another person.

This is why this theology must lack empathy by definition. It is utterly hostile to humanity.

Wade Burleson:

Argo,

You are not representing what I am saying accurately at all. I believe both this world and in hell, the judgment is WORSE for the child abuser. For this reason, God does not treat all sins the same. How He metes out different punishment in hell is something I can’t answer, but the fact Jesus said, “The day of judgment will be more tolerable for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than the people of Tyre and Sidon” indicates that judgment from God is measured in degrees. I have always believed this, so I would appreciate an acknowledgment that you have misunderstood and/or unintentionally misrepresented by beliefs. I know it is not intentional and is most likely due to my poor abilities of communication.

What I am saying is something that some dare not admit in our politically correct culture. The unrepentant homosexual and the unrepentant adulterer will join the child abuser in hell. How a just God metes out punishment that is different and suitable to the severity of the sin is something I cannot answer.

A sin committed against an unwilling person (i.e. rape, child abuse, etc…) is far worse than a sin committed against a consensual person (i.e. homosexuality, adultery). My point is both are sins. One worse than another, but both are sins. Yes?

Thanks for your comment.

Argo:

@ Wade Burleson:

Wade,
I will concede that you truly believe what you say you believe. To deny that would be presumptuous, and wrong, and so I do not want to “put words in your mouth”.

Otherwise, I am forced to stand by the ideas I expressed in my posts. My concern is that, though you certainly believe what you believe, the doctrine you espouse is inconsistent with that. In short, I do not think you have thought through the doctrine completely to its “logical” conclusion. Total inability to please God, or Total Depravity (same thing; there is no logical difference) is an ABSOLUTE construct. There can be no degrees of an absolute, by definition. If man is totally unable and totally depraved, then the end of man is his depravity. Not only is no sin according to this doctrine “worse than another”, but EVERYTHING man does must be considered evil; for there can be no GOOD in absolute depravity. So when you declare equivocations of sin, according to your doctrine (that I read on your church’s site) you are not being consistent. There is no way a victim of abuse can be declared less of a sinner than the abuser if both are ABSOLUTELY unable to please God. Again, it is the reliance on the absolute-ness of the invective “TOTAL” that destroys the concept of morality and makes man’s existence the root of ALL that is evil. If you want to declare degrees of sin, then you must jettison the idea that man is totally unable to please God, and yes this must include the unsaved. The end of man MUST be GOOD, and I mean GOOD as a function of being OF GOD (Created by Him); and in conjunction with man’s creation must be his morally “neutral” innate ability to WILL; that is, to do and choose whatever he chooses and does, and this must be wholly apart from God. It is this root ability and root morality of “good as a function of being of God” that makes man both able to please God and to displease God; to reject Him and to accept Him. Man himself is not the standard of evil; so he cannot then be TOTALLY unable or TOTALLY depraved. Man’s depravity then is only a function of his ability to ACT on his own behalf. Which, again, means he is not totally unable. On the contrary, he is justly rewarded or condemned by God because he is totally ABLE, and chooses to do or not do.

And no, I do not concede that homosexuality is a sin, necessarily, nor do I concede that sex of two consenting adults who are not married is sin. In this I could be wrong, but as of yet I would have no way of knowing how these activities are sin apart from my own (and your own) subjective assumptions concerning morality based on what is ultimately a subjective choice to believe in the bible. “Sin” must be rational, as well as biblical, in my view in order for it to be used in a way that is not a club to compel subjective versions of morality. It cannot be a function purely of “the bible says so, so its sin”. There must be an observable and measurable violation of another human being’s property, mind, and/or body. This MAY be the case with homosexuality or consenting adult sex, but I do not believe that it is necessarily so.

Thus went the exchange.  I feel that I was about as clear as I can be regarding the exclusivity between what Wade thinks and the doctrine he holds.  I understand that these can be confusing concepts, and so I do not in any way believe that Wade, nor many other–if not most–pastors purposefully intend to equivocate or mislead people.  Not at all.  But it is important that the inconsistency between thought/action and doctrinal assumptions be illuminated in the hopes that at least some will accept that it is better to preach truth and to also hold to it, rather than to preach it and yet not grasp its fundamentals.

One thing I wanted to mention but did not feel was constructive to do so on the blog is:  I find it strange and not wholly relevant to discuss the broad spectrum of sexual sins when discussing the rape/abuse/exploitation of minors.  I understand the point to some extent–that it is merely a matter of mere vagaries in definitions which separate one sex sin from another; and yet, I think the point is utterly baseless, and worse, obfuscates the real issue:  crimes against victims who possess no capacity to concede, accede, understand, accept, deny, or defend themselves.  To answer a question about giving some kind of spiritual succor or acceptance to a convicted child molester with an appeal to “homosexuality is wrong, too”; “sex outside of marriage is wrong, too”, seems…hmm, incompatible; as if we are discussing two different things.

Wade’s point is that the bible defines sin, not man’s culture…and I get that, but I’m still not sure what his point is or was in the context of the subject at hand. I took his statement to mean that, to God, no one sexual sin is worse or better than the other, and so to hold child molesters in some kind of special “sin category” is doctrinally flawed. Wade denied this, saying that there are degrees of sin, which is fine, but I’m left with:  why then mention homosexuality at all?  If homosexuality is indeed a lesser sin than child rape, why is homosexuality included in the discussion at all (not to mention that “degrees of sin” is utterly incompatible with the doctrine of total depravity/inability).  It seems to me that the only reason to include any other type of sexual sin in a discussion of child rape/molestation is to convey the idea that really, at the end of the day, all sin is the same sin; the victim is no better than the abuser.  For both deserve hell for their very existence, always and perpetually, and so, again, the victim needs to understand that the same way the abuse “proves” man’s total depravity and God’s perpetual need to convey judgement, so do the effects of the abuse.  And because of this, the victim is never in a position to judge the abuser; and is also perpetually obligated to “forgive” him or her, regardless of whether or not any active justice on the part of the victim is pursued; whether or not the abuser repents, or even stops abusing.

Now, I am in no way suggesting that Wade actively thinks this.  I am SURE he does not.  But I am also saying that I do not understand how discussion of other kinds of sexual sin (some of which are debatable because their immorality is subjective; e.g. sex between two unmarried consenting, mature adults) are in any way relevant to the wholly evil crime of child sexual abuse.  The negative effects of which have been objectively cataloged for decades by trained psychologists/psychiatrists/physicians.

I think mentioning other sexual sins is used to prove a neo-reformed doctrinal point:  don’t judge, because we are all equally sinful in God’s eyes.  This of course is a lie, but it is a cornerstone of reformed thinking.  And Wade, I understand is reformed.  So he will make doctrinal points when he can, understandably, because that is his job.  Even though he may not necessarily see or affirm the logical conclusions of those doctrinal points.

Appealing To Your Spiritual Gifts: The Heavy Guns of Neo-Reformed/Neo-Calvinist Marxist Propoganda

We hear this phrase a lot, and I’m not quite sure whether or not it’s actually in the bible.  Annnnd….knowing the neo-Calvinist “leadership” the way I do, I’d be surprised if it is.  Funny how all of these doctrinal revelations that they are so privy to (unlike the rest of us mindless animals beneath the stage) and which the bible speaks so “plainly” or “clearly” of are simply not to be found in scripture.  In fact, I’m not sure a single one of Calvin’s Five Points appears anywhere in the whole of it. Let me check.

Hmmm…nope.  Definitely not.

Anyway, the other day, there I am minding my business, sitting in my church, which until recently was quite a nice church…now, I say recently because about three months ago they hired a stark-raving Calvinist to “lead” us so that we can “make local church planting a priority” (where have I heard THAT before…oh, yeah…SGM; well, I will be planting my ass nowhere except on the couch if anyone asks).  Yes, it seems as though you can take a boy out of the neo-reformed juggernaut but you can’t take the neo-reformed juggernaut out of Christianity these days.  Sigh.  So, once again, the dog (me, it seems) has “returned to its vomit”.  So, until we find another non-Calvinist-church-but-will-likely-become-Calvinist-five-minutes-after-I-get-there-because-Calvinism-is-breeding-like-the-aliens-from-“Aliens“, there I am, sitting in the church on a Sunday morning minding my own business when this not-entirely-rational voice proclaims from somewhere up front, behind a podium, somewhere in some part of the church I don’t bother paying much attention to anymore, I heard, yet again, for the one-millionth time in my banal neo-Calvinist slog that what God wants (which, of course, any good Calvinist autocrat can tell you at any given moment; trust me…just ask!) is for us to make yet another umpteenth “commitment to Christ”.

Now, most of us don’t have a problem with committing to Christ.  We are all about that.  What we—or at least I—have a problem with is when some guy that I don’t even really know but I’m pretty sure I out-think throws out something like this without feeling the least bit compelled to offer even the slightest bit of qualification.  I’m assuming he is not merely speaking about salvation, because this is a room full of believers here.  Sure, we are TOTALLY DEPRAVED believers, half of which are really going to hell obviously…but still, we are believers.  Even the ones for whom salvation is nothing more than “ignorance is bliss”.  The “damned saved” as I call them.

No, no.  As usual, this is of course another new commitment; nothing to do with salvation (what does in Calvin’s theology, really?).  For if there is one thing I know it’s that as soon as a Calvinist pastor lands a new job he’s going to want the whole damn church committing to pretty much everything in the world.  It’s called job security.  Tell people to shut up and commit, stop looking for excuses and other churches because you’re not sure if you like this new guy or not and get back to the business of BELONGING to the CHURCH.

Instantly my ears perked up because I cannot resist betting with myself when the opportunity arises; and this is because I always win.  It’s almost getting too easy.

So I bet myself this time that not only will he not qualify the nature of this “commitment” he is dangling and that we are supposed to make (in writing…which came at the end of the sermon, of course!) but also that the sermon which follows will involve some heavy appeal to self-denial in favor of yet another unqualified and poorly defined remonstrance against the “world”, with a large does of guilt, and some nebulous and half-hearted nod towards “I’m no different; God expects the same from us all” (lie), and some serious and hyperspecific ideology focusing on the “good of the many depraved asses outweigh the good of one depraved ass…namely YOU”, and then some vague and flimsy “applications” that really don’t seem to speak to anyone in any particular way.

You see, rule number one for Calvinist sermons:  It’s all about getting the ideology across; the rest is just canned whipped cream. And once thats done, you, the congregant, are expected to come to the pastor (or the “care group” leader, who has already been to the pastor, and vetted for doctrinal loyalty) for answers on just what the hell it is supposed to look like for you.  The problem is that when the “collective” is front and center of every sermon, it is hard for individuals to know exactly what to do with the information.  And this, I submit, is why there is so much psychological torment in neo-Calvinist congregations.  People feel guilty for not knowing.  They feel guilty for being “selfish” and “prideful” which is clearly the problem; otherwise, they’d already understand what to do…goes the inner monologue.  After all the pastor shouldn’t be expected to have to spell it out for them.  He’s got better things to do, like “covering” this other guy over here, you selfish jerk; and thinking up a funny and trite story with which to start the next sermon, preferably involving sports so he can sound masculine and manly, because that is what Christianity is supposed to be and feel like (the physical stature of most senior pastors notwithstanding) and because nothing says manly like men in tight clothes or brightly-colored shorts playing games while a million drunk idiots hyperventilate and vomit in the stands.

So, your ignorance on how to apply a concept which is totally exclusive to your individual frame of reference makes you, the poor slob, wallow in self-abasing, self-loathing emotional chastisement.  And when you finally gather up the nerve to ask a “leader”, you are either ridiculed or pitied/patronized for not having “sound doctrine”.

And then you are promptly told to go join the Urinal-Cake Cleaning Committee until a spot opens up in the two to four-year-old Sunday school class.  Which will likely be next Sunday. And if you know anyone else willing to help out in that class, call them as soon as you can. Because, damn it, we always need help in the children’s ministry…especially the reeeeally little ones.

You know what?  After you clean the urinal cakes, why don’t you just hop on over to children’s ministry.  I’m sure they need the help right now.  Do this, and you’ll be raking leaves and sweating your ass off cutting grass on your day off in no time, brother.  After that, you get to set up chairs at six a.m. on Sunday mornings.  The sky’s the limit when you properly hate yourself.  Oh, you’d be surprised how many jobs the adequately self-loathing get to do for the church.

Well, it turns out I won my own bet, as usual.  Two for two.  And what followed was yet another overt appeal to Marxism as the way to do church “right”.  “Your gifts for me and mine for yours”, went the refrain.  Yeah…seriously.  And so, again, I started writing in my little notebook that I always keep with me.  Taking, er…”notes”, on the pastor’s sermon, like any good little reformation boy would.  After all, when God stands in front of you and dictates, you write it all down verbatim.  That’s how we got the bible, remember?.

And this is the fruit of my labor.  The source material was so good, my hand started to cramp keeping up.

I must say that, so far, the research in my little Calvinist part of the world is going just swimmingly.

Please stay tuned for part two!

The Stark Divide Between Christ’s Message and Calvin’s Message…in “Tweet” Form

The difference between a person telling someone that they love them and forgive them because they have inherent worth as a human being, and a person telling someone that they love them and forgive them because what they did or do doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of God’s sovereign plan is the difference between Christ’s love and John Calvin’s “sound doctrine”.

 

A Message of Hope for the Unreformed and Therefore (falsely) Accused. Part IV

A critical method of interpreting scripture is extremely valuable in determine the true context of the doctrine, idea, or moral-of-the-story being revealed.  As the brilliant meta-physician John Immel reminds us, asking three simple questions prior to any study of scripture, even if it be merely a cursory reading of a verse or passage, is a great way to illuminate the author’s particular historical context; and this is a great start to rightly dividing the truth of biblical revelation.  The truth, of course, being the absolute premise of God, which must, in order to be TRUTH, transcend cultures and contexts.  But the vehicle of the TRUTH is man, and man, being limited, must live within the confines of a physical, historical bordered existence, and thus the TRUTH will always be found beneath the existential realities of the time; and these must be divided so that the truth can be revealed clear, unfettered, and useful.

The three questions John recommends we ask ourselves…or rather, ask of scripture, are:

Who is speaking?

Who is the audience?

What is the context?

I know of no better nor simpler way to start a reading of the bible.  Ignoring, of course, the presumptive neo-Calvinist answers to these questions,which I will summarize as follows:

God is speaking (because “inspiration” in neo-reformed land = verbatim dictation, circumventing the culture, context, perspective and even physical and cognitive SELF of the author so that there is absolutely no metaphysical distinction between the writer of the text and God Himself; and therefore, there can be no metaphysical distinction between God and the Bible…welcome to the fourth person of the “Trinity”.  Hello idolatry).

The audience is whomever, anywhere, at any time, in any culture, context, or society.  Or, the audience is no one at all.  For the bible, being as perfect as God—which means BEING God—needs no audience for its truths to be revealed as perfect and perfectly efficacious, whether there is anyone to actually apply them or not.  Hmm…this is a rational, spiritual, and philosophical contradiction in terms.  But, that is of course the foundation of all reformed “logic”.  Nothing makes sense, because if it did, then regular people could grasp it.  And God is not really going to reveal good and pure truth to those who are totally depraved…what a redundancy.  The totally depraved cannot grasp good and pure truth at all.  That is the whole damned Calvinist point, is it not?  So, the point is that the audience is irrelevant.  The bible isn’t for you; it is only applicable to you because your pastor-in-the-stead tells you how.  Because he has been divinely chosen to lord over you…somehow, mysteriously, escaping the logical effects of human total depravity.  “Total” being a theoretical absolute and thus no man can escape its boundaries, because it has none…so truly the fact that your neo-Cal pastor can apprehend the bible is a miracle of God.  Shudder and bow before him, you foolish, wicked barbarians.

The bible is infallible, therefore there is no context.  Since the words are God’s words verbatim (that’s why the church always capitalizes the W in “God’s Word”…there is NO difference between the Word of God and God, is the point…sneaky, yes…and blasphemous) there can be no earthly context to them.  Again, “infallible” is a theoretical absolute.  It is infinite.  It has no boundaries.  If we attempt to declare there is any context with respect to the historicity of the life of the author we deny that it is absolutely infallible.  The bible can have no context.  That way, when you decide you do not agree with your Calvinist pastor’s interpretation of a certain passage of scripture, you can rest assure that you are forever and safely wrong.  Wholly. Categorically. Totally depraved WRONG.  YOUR opinion….YOUR ideas…YOUR interpretation…YOUR brain, your conscience, your body, your life, your family, your perspective, your struggles, your genetic or childhood-born proclivities are ALL contexts which can never confine scripture.  Whether it is true in tandem with you or in spite of you, it is true nonetheless.  It is always true, regardless of anything in this world or any consequences simply because it IS.  And the only fitting context for an absolute theoretical construct like “infallibility” is a likewise absolute theoretical construct like “the local church”; or the “local body of believers”; which really means the “collective.”

Which really means rank Marxist ideology.  Communism with a capital C.  Or…three Cs, like, say, CCCP.

So, John’s questions are a great way to discern between that which is likely a function of historical context, and what is the generation-transcendent point of the thing.

But that is merely part of the equation, for as far as I can tell, wholly efficacious application of philosophical “truth” (which is what Christianity is…a philosophical perspective) is going to be, for the most part, subjective regardless of how accurately we assess historical bias in the bible.  The fact is that man is so contextually different from others even within the exact same time and place and culture and society that it is almost, I think, impossible to objectively quantify how a biblical truth will “look”…or, rather, what tangible effects can really be observed from a third-party perspective.  For life, for consciousness IS relative, really.  I’m not speaking of “moral relativity”; what I mean is that because individual consciousnesses are in fact, just that– individual–how a application of truth is always going to be only RELATIVELY true, never directly true, because direct truth is a function of a single entity or object…truth that is NOT integrated perfectly, part of the exact same physical thing, can never be anything but relatively true.  For example, how an overworked suburban IBM pack-mule working from home applies the command “love your neighbor” may be different than an overworked rural Vietnamese rain-forest tribal leader and silkworm harvester applies “love your neighbor”.  LOVE, while an absolute truth can certainly be observed differently in different cultural contexts, for example.  And it almost always will.

Incidentally, I believe this is why we are commanded to not judge.  For we can only judge from a relative standpoint.  Since we cannot BE the other person, we must be extremely careful before we condemn another, or accuse them of sin merely because their application of a biblical truth LOOKS different than yours.

And with that said, as far as I can tell, the Holy Spirit Himself is the ONLY One who can qualify as the consistent arbiter between the application of truth in human contexts; be it the historical contexts of bible authors of two thousand years ago and the modern context of those of us in Obama’s America, or be it the separate life contexts of two individuals existing as contemporaries in the same society.  And this means that religion is first and foremost individual, NOT collective.  Our relationship with our God is first and foremost personal; between individual YOU and God.  Relationships outside of that are purely relative.  The only real connection is between you alone and your God alone.  His truth will be revealed perfectly for YOU; and as such it cannot–if we concede that people are separate and different and exist apart from one another–…yes it cannot ever be revealed perfect for someone else in the exact same way.  For this is the root, core, and only rational metaphysic available.  If you concede that your consciousness is your own, you must concede that your relationship with God is personal.  It cannot be collective, and it cannot be like anyone else’s.  It is your job to commune with your God in a way that is most suitable for you; your comfort and your happiness, because only through your comfort and your happiness; your peace and your abundant life can the TRUTH of God be properly revealed.  If TRUTH runs contrary to YOU; if it is measured by your pain, sacrifice, torment and destruction, it is not true at all. The purpose of your life is to LIVE, and only YOU can live it.  You cannot live it by denying YOU.  (Those verses of “deny yourself” do not mean DESTROY yourself.  They mean: reject what you have previously accepted in favor of being “free indeed”.  Do not let the Calvinist despots twist scripture so that it becomes the stocks to you;  they love to do that.)

Obviously, this leaves a lot of room for “license”.  A word that reformed tyrants and overlords despise.  Remember, if you are actually allowed to be YOU, and to follow YOUR ideas and joys and life, then they lose power.  And power is the only rationally arguable purpose for doing what they do.  They may have other reasons, but none of them make any logical sense.  Any other reason is either explicitly or implicitly denied by their doctrine.

The point of no longer being bound to a “law” by which you are set apart as “good” and the true freedom of Christ which declares that you are now morally perfect–because your perfection is a function of your root physical being as a creature of God–is that you are free to pursue and do whatever you want in this life without fear of condemnation or punishment, restraint or harsh rebuke. (Now, when I say “whatever you want”, this is not license for psychopathy; obviously you may not harm your neighbor, either his mind, property or physical person…for if you concede that YOU are morally perfect in Christ and thus privileged with the gift of a life to own, then you must concede that life is the property and perfection of everyone else; a violation of which is a rejection of God, Himself…so, be careful not to “hear what I’m not saying”. )  For no one can objectively judge you, again, because the truth of Christ is relative to YOU, and you are the sum of your own truth.  No one else gets to define how and where and when the Spirit’s counsel moves you or how it is revealed in your life; and no one—and I mean NO ONE—gets to deny that YOU are YOU.  Not even God does that.  God treads lightly with His children.  They are free to be THEM, and that is precisely why the message of Christ is such a joy (or should be).  You now can live and enjoy living without fear of losing that life which God gave you to be used just for that purpose:  pleasure, love, joy, peace, in a covenant of protection and love from yourMaker.  Without fear; without torment.  Without punishment.  Without some mystic throwback to pagan gnostic shamanism demanding you forfeit your soul to his “stead”, obligate your time and property to his business (the local church) and become the collective as William Turner’s father became the Flying Dutchman (“part of the crew, part of the ship”) in Pirates of the Caribbean.

For in Christ, all things about you are GOOD.  And despite what the neo-Calvinist despots think or preach or believe, and no matter how many catechisms they write or edicts they proclaim or popes they elect, this means that you are free to be you.  And NO ONE has any rational argument whatsoever for condemning you.

This is good news.  THE good news.

A Message of Hope for the Unreformed and (therefore) Falsely Accused (Part III)

First, a response to those who condemn abuse but give quarter and succor to the ideas of Calvinism:

Those who continue to decry abuse and yet deny the culpability of reformation theology are merely paving over the old, crumbling road and creating a new, smooth and wide-open freeway for the next generation of demagogues and dictators to march upon, unfettered, towards their next group of hapless subjects. 

This is foolishness, people.  Decry the abuse and yet laud the ideas that lead to the abuse?  Deny the abusers right to abuse and yet concede the very doctrinal assumptions that cannot mean anything other than they DO have the explicit right to abuse anyone and anything, anytime, in the name of preserving that which is perfect, sound, and infallible; because according to the theology they teach and accept, human beings  are the problem.  Death to self means death to men and women so that the absolute ideas can roam unfettered throughout the earth, without the pesky and obvious contextual limitations of human beings getting in the way.  Their version of heaven is a place where people no longer actually act or live like people. Heaven is where all people are dead.  After all, the only good human is a tortured and murdered human.

Hypocrites!  How dare you waggle a finger at the abuser while patting his assumptions on the back, listening to his abominable sermons and saying “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  You do the abused no favors!  Go your way, and hold your tongues.  We don’t need rational contradictions masquerading as sympathy.  You hypocrites are worse than the abusers!  At least they are consistent in their ideas…at least with unabashed and unapologetic apostasy the abused know where they stand.  At least the staunch “Calvinistas”  come as they are; not as a stranger with a warm smile and a stinger hidden underneath their cloak!  You cede the complaint of the abused and then demand they listen to their abuser as he lectures from the lacquered pulpit! 

Please…for the love of God, rethink these ideas.  I’ve spoken to many of you.  I’ve revealed the contradictions and metaphysical impossibilities which drive their “sound” doctrine, and you have agreed!  You have conceded my points, almost to a man and woman;  and yet…still, it remains within your definition of “orthodoxy”. The very ideas that these abused children were under at the time of their abuse are ideas that are just fine with you; contradictions and all. 

If you do not reassess the appropriateness of Calvinism and neo-reformation theology, there is no longer hope for you.  For if you no longer appeal to reason you cannot appeal to love.  For love IS rational!  Love can be consistently argued.  What you refuse to condemn cannot. 

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The attempted implementation and application of unqualified theoretical absolutes-which is precisely the foundation of reformation theology—into individual human lives leads ultimately to chaos and anarchy on both a collective and an individual scale, as well as copious amounts of emotional, psychological and even physical abuse, torture and ruin.  The bulwark of the divine power to dictate the practical terms of mutually-exclusive-to-man absolutes is the appeal to biblical infallibility.

Infallibility itself is purely a theoretical construct, incapable of being practically applied to a real-life human context.  Infallibility is limitless by definition (incapable of erring means in anything and thus, infallibility cannot be contextualized); and thus, the only option for man, who is demonstrably limited, is to yield to the force of the infinite “truth” of, not God, but this thing; this book; this noun; this lump of paper and leather and ink.  It, being infallible, is like God in its absolute-ness, and yet is wielded “correctly” only by those divinely appointed gnostics–who, by their own admission are merely poor, fallible, sinful men who but for the grace go, sob, sob (a bigger lie there is not)–standing in the stead…of who?  That’s right.  Of God.  This means that THEY are God’s proxy on Earth; the ones He loves the bestest.  Like Moses, and Samuel and David and Jesus; and as such, are just as good as God as far as you are concerned.

As searing as a light saber in their hands, there is nothing that they cannot cut with this infallible talisman; this shaman’s idol.  Nothing they cannot destroy and raze to the ground.  With the sole right to somehow interpret that which is, by definition, beyond any human interpretation, the Calvinist autocrats have in their hands the leather bound excuse to destroy, suppress, and oppress anything and everything in service to their divinely-appointed power.

And make no mistake:  an appeal to biblical infallibility is nothing more than an appeal to their god-like power.  Being the sole arbiters of the bible’s truth, it can and does say anything they want it to say at any given instant for any given reason.   The slashing and burning that takes place by these men who possess the superhuman power to alone bridge the gap between the purely theoretical absolutes of biblical “truths” and man’s fallible and depraved context is squarely a result of the masses conceding the neo-reformed premise of biblical infallibility.  And you have no argument.  You have no defense.  Why?  Because, as I railed against in my forward to this post, you concede the root assumption which grants them the explicit power to destroy you…and yet you, absurdly, decry the destruction.  This is full-fledged mass religious, pathological cognitive dissonance.  Christians NOW, even the victims of the worst crimes against humanity (and I know this is true, for I know some of them personally), perpetrated by the hands of despotic church governments…yes, the very same victims STILL concede the very idea that leads inevitably to the stomping of themselves, their lives and children into oblivion:  the assumption that bible is incapable of erring.  Period.  No qualification.  No context.  The bible is perfect because it is the bible.  That is the sum of its truth.  Being infallible, it needs no defense beyond this:  it’s the bible.  And your pastor is solely given to tell you what it means.  For you, being fallible as a limited human being, cannot possibly understand it. The bible is the infallible idol of all idols.

This is why scripture must…I repeat, MUST be interpreted contextually.  For context is the only way you can hope to objectively compare reality; yours, and those of the authors of scripture.  The only way you can consistently and rationally apply biblical ideas is to develop a way of organizing reciprocity between contexts.  How your context can apply a biblical truth is directly related to how close the biblical truth relates to YOU where YOU ARE NOW…not where some guy from three thousand years ago was.  The differences in context are titanic; and though the differences in truth may not be, if you don’t strip away that which is merely contextual, then you will inevitably obfuscate the truth in favor of mere ceremonial arraignment .  That is, the “truth” will be lost in a million irrelevant details which have been mistaken for absolute biblical “musts” because the bible is infallible.  If the bible says fathers gave their daughters away in marriage, well…screw the fact that you happen to love the hot rock star with a cool car and tattoos who treats you like a princess; YOU don’t matter because the infallible bible says that the Yale graduate podiatrist douchebag narcissist who treats you like shit and forces you to go to “women’s retreats” every month to learn how to please him better sexually and be more sexy to him while dressing modestly in frocks, hose, orthopedic shoes and giving birth to eight sets of twin blondes and driving them around to vacation bible school in your giant, ass-ugly black Ford Econoline van with six rows of stained seats is the man “God wants you to have” because he happens to be the man your fundy daddy likes. And because that’s the way it was done a million years ago in the bible.  To hell with the “love your neighbor” business; to hell with thinking your neighbor, in Christ, actually has a right to be her own person and do what she wants because she lives in a free America and in Christ is “free indeed”.  Obviously that doesn’t apply if your neighbor is a girl.

So, the closer the relationship, meaning, the more you can strip away what is purely cultural, historical, and author perspective and get to the root, transcendent  idea, the more consistent the application.  The more efficacious and rational the outcome.  Using proof-texting or esoteric interpretive methods which wholly disregard biblical context, culture, writer perspective…as well as grammatical tools and literary techniques such as allegory or metaphor, poetry and prose,can NEVER be the basis for passing along what is objective, applicable, effective TRUTH.  Truth, by definition IS objective.  It cannot be the function of some ideologue’s purely subjective interpretation masquerading as “divine revelation”; a claim, incidentally, which cannot be substantiated by any rational means.  You will ultimately devote your life to one person’s subjective (and usually under-educated) claim about what something means, regardless of whether or not the “meaning” makes any practical sense to YOUR life and context or not.

Thus, if a means of establishing a rational contextual relationship between the reality of your life–including all of its nuances and vagaries, customs, cultures, psychological states and proclivities, and social constructs– and biblical doctrines is not engaged, then religion and faith can and will only ever be subjective; wholly useless as a world view; unsubstantiated, beyond reason, beyond measure, and beyond human contextual reality.  Subjective truth, in short, is useless truth…and useless truth is no truth at all.

Please return for part four! 

DIE: Depravity, Inerrancy, Election (as determinism), the Unholy Trinity of Reformed Theological Absolutes. A Message of Hope for the Unreformed and (therefore) Falsely Accused (Part II)

As I stated in my previous post on this issue, the attempted real-world application of unqualified absolutes–and take your pick; my favorites at the moment are Total Depravity and biblical Infallibility and election (as determinism)–will inevitably lead to chaos, anarchy, and emotional and physical abuse (glaring train-wreck exhibit A:  Sovereign Grace Ministries).  Now, the operative word here is “unqualified”; for all of us deal in absolutes on a daily basis.  Language is in fact rooted in this very thing, the very idea of theoretical absolutes.  And, for review, these are concepts which, in their theoretical form, can have no limitations precisely because they are not actually real.  Things that are purely cognitive/imaginative constructs can have no actual boundaries.  So, again, the employment of theoretical absolutes is how we communicate.  We effectively limit the construct by associating it with a “picture” of something from the physical world.  Something which has been processed first into our thinking by our senses.

Take for example the concept of “table”.  Now “table”, in purely its theoretical form, can have no limitations.  Table is table is table; the sum and substance of its own truth.  To attempt to theoretically define it as a function of limitation means, effectively, that it becomes a self-contradictory thing, and thus it cannot logically work anywhere, let alone in reality, rendering it a moot and useless idea at its core.  However, if you are able to marry the infinite concept of “table” with the “picture” of a real table which has been previously organized cognitively by your senses, then you can practically apply the otherwise limitless and inapplicable concept of table to your world and context so that the theoretical absolute “table”, becomes efficacious for your physical life.  For this is the purpose of language; to organize what we actually sense.  Communication and the promulgation of human knowledge and understanding  is merely the flawless integration of theoretical concepts (which otherwise would be infinite, and thus, useless to life) with the physical world which is revealed to man’s mind by his senses.

Shout out to John Locke.

However, there are some concepts which do not have a real-world correlation, and so for these we must carefully limit our expectations about just how efficacious they can be in the real world, since there is no means by which to observe them.  Since we cannot observe them via the senses, they must be assumed to be wholly a function of man’s theoretical thinking (and this is frankly obvious in most cases), and as such, again, can have no limitation.  Thus, they cannot be married with any sort of acceptable or logical expectations for rational outcomes to the real world.

And no, it is not logically acceptable, nor wise, to define as “real” those concepts which are only observed via physical objects.  You cannot say “flight” exists; you can only say birds fly.  Flight itself is a theoretical absolute which does NOT exist apart from the object which flies.

Incidentally, this is why I feel that scientists often make the same “philosophical” flaws that the reformed mystics do.  They fall into the same logical trap, and end up “proving” things which cannot possibly be true in the  actual universe because they are predicated on the fact that certain unobservable theoretical constructs actually exist outside of the mind.  And, again, they do not.  You cannot go to your neighbor and borrow a cup of “void”; you cannot go to Target and pick up a pair of spacetime; you cannot photograph the “past” nor swing the bat at the pitcher’s “future”.  These theoretical constructs are only observed via the physical objects which exist “in” them.  You cannot rationally conclude then that they exist beyond man’s theoretical mind.  For rationally, they can only be a product of the physical bodies which can be observed.  Apart from physical objects (or theoretical reference points which fill in as mathematical substitutes) spacetime cannot be measured, gathered, observed, or revealed.  Thus, attempting to employ these concepts apart from a physical, observable object makes them contradictory, and thus, moot.  Mutually exclusive to man’s physical reality.

Physicists will never find the “answer to everything” by digging in the wrong place (Raiders of the Lost Ark).  By continuing to mine their own imaginations and cognitive quantification (mathematics) as the source of REAL TRUTH, they dig themselves deeper and deeper into a mystic and philosophical black hole of their own making, not unlike that of the religious despots with whom they claim to disagree.

And this is the implicit danger in neo-reformationISM, particularly the neo-Calvinist autocracy. And, really, it is well past danger.  The destruction is being meted out hand over fist in the form of unspeakable physical and psychological abuse.  The danger has already arrived, and we are seeing the “logical conclusion” before our eyes.  And it is every bit as dreadful as imagined and predicted.

But make no mistake, it isn’t that these neo-Calvinist despots do not qualify their theoretical, doctrinal absolutes, like depravity and infallibility of the bible, and “election” as determinism (the unholy trinity of reformed theological absolutes: depravity, infallibility, election, or DIE).  It is that they cannot qualify them.  By definition, depravity, determinism, and infallibility (three of many) simply can have no physical corollary in the real world.  They are absolute.  They are limitless.  They are only and ever theoretical.  They are wholly and always mutually exclusive to reality.  And this forms the basis of the theology and this is WHY it is so destructive.  These ideas, being indivisible in themselves, and infinite, wield infinite power, being the sum of their own truth.  There is no way any limited human being can apply a theoretical absolute.  The human will always fall bloodied on the altar of the omnipotent concept.  Between the two, the human, being physical, being limited, being susceptible to violence or force of the physical kind, will always give ground; will always be cut down in service to that which is, again, utterly indivisible.  And this is the root of reformed abuse.  The irrational, capricious application of impossible ideas which are wielded by autocrats who of some divine insight have been divinely given to somehow apply them will destroy the masses and fatten the autocrats.   YOU exist in service to an idea that THEY ALONE get to define.  And because the idea is absolute, anything they decide at any time is infallible as far as you are concerned.  And if it kills, it kills.  The fault for any abuse is obviously the fallible human.  This is the only logical conclusion.  It is survival of the fittest.  For there can never be fault found in a perfect idea.  And a perfect idea is an idea which is the utter sum of its own truth.  Its truth is unassailable.  It is beyond reproach, because there is no way to find fault in an idea which is wholly defined by : it IS what it IS, and what it is, is perfect, and it is perfect because it IS what it IS.  And on and on the circular logic goes. 

It should be apparent by now, with the horror show of SGM parading across the front pages of the media even as I type this, that there is and can be no love in any of it.  Love can only be revealed by human beings, to human beings, for human beings (by obeying God, which is loving God…”if you loved Me, you would obey Me”).  And so if humans are all dying because they cannot truly exist in light of the absolutes which continually demote and slash at them, it is because there is no one really there to love.  Humans, in light of absolutes which cannot do anything but destroy because they inevitably push reality out of the way, never align with it…and thus humans are functionally dead to it.

Please come back for part three!

A Message of Hope for the Unreformed and (therefore) Falsely Accused (Part I)

The more I think and the more I hear what is said and see what is done, the more I am astounded that pastoral ministry thrives the way it does in this country.  I’m incredulous at the amount of power the reformed minister has.  I’m shocked at the kind of lock-step thinking which accompanies their every whim and word.  I’m sickened and flummoxed by the categorical willingness educated people display when it comes to appealing to their passive thinking and implementing the rationally defunct and empathy-exhausted “doctrine” which passes for wisdom and godliness but produces endless amounts of human collateral damage.

And yet, I must admit that, feeling this way, I am surprised at myself.  I’m also more than a little embarrassed; and even more than that, ashamed.  I was just that way.  Educated, moral (or so I thought), humble and gentle.  I gave my money and time and mind to monsters who preach debased ideas which to this day torture and torment all manner of innocents ceaselessly, most profound of which are the children who suffer behind the “covering” of reformed pedophiles and maniacs.

And yet, even more amazingly and abysmally, there is always an eternal cue begging to be let into the club; and those already in the club are ceaselessly begging for more.

Cult of death?  Yes I said it.  Indeed.

Who are these monsters?

They are the gnostics.  The divines.  The mystics.  The purveyors of the single greatest and largest autocracy in America:  the “pastors/elders-in-the-stead” of the modern neo-reformed, neo-calvinist churches.  Some are from small groups.  Some are from large ones.  But they are all the same, frankly.  They provide what they call “covering”.  And the covering is nothing more than a veil which serves to shield them from the watchful eyes of reason and love and even God, Himself, if that were possible.

They stand up there with their haughtiness and narcissistic disposition and feign humility.  They toss out false and heretical, logically impossible, metaphysically irrational ideas with great aplomb, and soaring soliloquies regarding the supremacy of God’s Marxist Christian collective, and lie with words like “I am just like you; we are all alike in Christ; merely sinners saved by grace”.

Trust me, their doctrine by no means teaches them that.  Those that say it does are either ignorant or liars.

In their “messages” (at my old church, SGM [shiver, cringe, shudder, self-flagellate] they stopped being “sermons” like a million years ago; I don’t know why…another big gnostic secret I suppose)…at any rate, in their messages they offer a myriad of absolute theoretical constructs ((like “total depravity”, for example; or, even simpler, “denial of self”, or “local church”, etc., etc.), with no practical/applicable qualification whatsoever.  No rational, objective example; no context; no rational explanation of how this absolute doctrine/idea/theology (all mere euphemisms for “subjective opinions”) might reveal itself as true and efficacious in a person’s everyday life is ever revealed.

This is partly because the reformed leaders don’t really know anyone.  Their theology does not allow them to acknowledge that actual, individual human lives are at stake, and that those lives are worth something to God.  And this is because the church exists to service, not God, nor the “sheep”, but them, the leadership, who are God in the stead.  And this is purely logical from their point of view.  They are as good as God, thus, sacrificing oneself daily as commanded by scripture obviously means, if you are a lowly bench warmer, wholly granting the sum and soul of your life to the leadership.  The equation is a simple one:

God=leadership=categorical and infinite entitlement.

And so the only examples they give in sermons when preaching on this or that absolute concept are ones that spring from either their lives, or family, or, more often, merely their own minds.  Some of the less ostentatious pastors might decide to offer no examples at all, preferring to let the absolute just hang out there in the wind like so much old cheese, the sum of itself… its meaning, somehow, speaking for itself.  The “elect” will grasp it, and apply it properly whether they realize it or not.  The unfortunate un-elect…well, their damnation is deserved after all, lest they “turn and be healed.”  Again, you see, they don’t feel they need to truly know anyone else because no one else exists.  For if they acknowledge actual human need then they must deny their doctrine, which demands that people are NEVER themselves, but always some “thing” which is merely an extension of of another force.  Usually, the force is depravity or sin, and so they cannot acknowledge that, obviously.  But if the force happens to be God “doing” through the “elect” person, well, God certainly doesn’t need their help, does he?  Either way, practically speaking, empirically speaking, the laity is on their own.  They are functionally dead to the truly reformed/Calvinist eldership.

Make no mistake about that.

YOU are worth nothing alive, is essentially the doctrine.  Human beings acknowledging that they have an individual “self” which warrants attention of any kind, including and especially love, are the single greatest evil and problem in the universe.  God HATES you.  That is the core “truth” of reformed theology.  Period.  Three words provide all the practical application you need, sinner.

So, again, one of many great flaws in neo-reformed teaching–and really, in the church in general today–is the proffering of absolute and thus purely theoretical “doctrines” which are never actually qualified (because they cannot be); and the implicit truth behind this is the fact that, being that these are absolutes, man must conform to them.  For an absolute must be limitless, by definition, and so “sound doctrine” can never conform to man–any more than an infallible bible can conform to man’s context.  Man is in the unenviable position of having to both accept and live with the fact that he is FOR doctrine and the bible, not the other way around (which is obviously false; for neither would exist without man in the first place).  Man exists in service to absolutes which he can never by definition attain or achieve because he is obviously, demonstrably, and objectively limited.  This creates a mankind which is perpetually failing; perpetually losing; and perpetually being routed in his existential truth.  He can never win, by definition.  The sum of his truth then is purely how far along towards completion his destruction is.  The more pain, the more damage, the more depleted and barren the man (or woman…especially the woman), the more that man stands as a witness to the absolute-ness of the absolute idea.   And the more he or she is a testimony to the “truth” of the absolute idea, which is as indestructible as it is infinite.  And this, horrifically, is a good thing to those who accept the gnostic apostasy of Calvinism, rooted in Luther’s reformation theology. 

And they see this absolute idea as proof of their “godly” wisdom, when it is nothing more than insanity run amok in the hands of men who believe it is their God-given mandate to sacrifice human beings to His absolutes; His “sound doctrine”.  But really it is the confusing of the theoretical with the actual.  It is folly, and far from being Christ’s “narrow road” it is a flaming hole wide enough for millions to fall into.  There is nothing wise about it.  It is purely the folly of subjective, unreasonable, illogical, impossible thinking.  Absolutes can be absolute precisely because they don’t actually exist.  They are mutually exclusive to reality.  And thus confusing them with reality isn’t divine wisdom; it is madness.

Attempting to apply the unqualified absolutes pronounced from the pulpit leads–of course–to chaos, anarchy, and emotional and physical abuse at the hands of the ecclesiastical authority…who is just as confused as you are.  You see, the leadership doesn’t understand nor accept that an absolute theoretical construct cannot apply to individuals in a way that can really be objectively observed by a third party most of the time.  And this leads them to flail like a drowning man in the throws of their own logical confusion.  Falling on the sword of reason, they will eventually assume the position of mystic tyrant, finally realizing that since there is in fact no way to actually provide a consistent applicable reality when stemming from a purely theoretical truth to individuals who are, by divine design, wholly a function of differing contextual realities…yes, they will eventually resort to deciding that whatever they happen to say, or think, or declare, or decide at any given moment, based on any old whim or flight of fancy, is, in fact, the consistent TRUTH which ALWAYS proves the theoretical doctrine right, regardless of whether or not their words actually result in anything efficacious or edifying or even the least bit consistent with the doctrine.  Since the truth is absolute, and they are those God has appointed to reveal it, and since they are limited by their human context (which they hate, creating the unholy, narcissistic combination of self-loathing and self-worship), then they must concede that God is behind whatever they say on the matter, regardless of how inane or irrelevant, banal or pointless.  And so whatever they say is, again, the categorical and practical revelation of that absolute truth.

And from this it does not take an Aristotle to see that human carnage and spiritual madness/confusion are the only logical, practical, and actual real world results of such rank mysticism.

Okay…we didn’t get to the “hope” part yet, but trust me, these are premises which must be grasped before we can see just why understanding the confusing of absolute theoretical ideas with actual reality is precisely why we are tormented by these autocrats, and precisely why we can ultimately renounce their assumptions and their theology as purely figments of their imaginations.  And that is the “hope” part.

Please return for part two of this series! 

Examining the M in the Enemy’s CAMP: The Implicit Marxism in neo-Reformed Theology (III)

In the words of…er, some country singer in the 70’s (80’s?), “I was country when country wasn’t cool”.  All I mean to say is, trust me…I have been on all the rides.  I have heard the sermons and I have seen these ideas implemented with grenade-like, uh…precision.  I know of what I speak.  The “local church” bears very little resemblance to the libertarian democracy neo-Calvinist flag-pin-wearers swear was actually mentioned first in a Jonathon Edwards sermon.  This is a Christian nation, after all…and by this of course, they mean reformed protestant (not those Catholic pigs)…and by this of course they mean Calvinist; and by this they mean Lutheran; and by this they mean Augustinian.  And he was Catholic.

What were they saying about those Catholic, sex-deprived, collar-wearing pigs again?

And as for Calvin?  Trust me, he was a commie before commie was cool.  In Geneva, you didn’t get a say; you didn’t get to be on the pastoral search committee; you didn’t get to disagree; you didn’t get to read books or listen to teachers who weren’t approved by the leadership; you didn’t get to skip church; you didn’t get to criticize the boring, perfunctory, repetitive and banal worship music.  Let’s just say you didn’t get to urinate without the disapproving eye of your spiritual elder bearing down upon your private parts; gauging the, er…measure of your commitment to the ecclesiastical autocracy.  Of course, this practice lent somewhat of an ironic tone to the idea of pastoral “covering”.  

And those wonderful freedom-loving puritans?  Um…exactly how many cogregants were burned or banished for having the temerity to disagree with the “church”?  For daring to appeal to a “representative” form of government?

So much for this being a Christian nation.  A Christian nation is precisely what the Founding Fathers were hoping to avoid.

13.  “Everyone has a gift for ministry.  Every one should be serving in a ministry”:  Using your “gift” for ministry (my gift happens to be nap-taking; but they don’t have that committee, so I’m still looking) is the obligatory outward sign of your devotion to the collective and the Marxist Calvinist mentality.  Nothing says “I’m utterly committed to hating myself and putting on the spirit of the groupthink” quite like doing a bunch of chores for free and for an elder board with a massive case of entitlement in the middle of the week after you’ve already laid pavement in 98 degree heat for ten hours that day; or fought with sixty ungrateful wretches at the customer service counter at Acme Electronics.  Ah yes, the joys of exercising your gift for ministry.  “Anyone and everyone has has a gift” simply means that there is a lot of stuff that needs doing and we, the elders, don’t think we should have to pay for it.

That seems fair.  I’ll give ten percent of my salary before taxes to the leadership and then scrub the toilets also…on my one day off (because you can’t count Sunday; honestly, the day is half over by the time you get home, which sucks…whatever happened to in and out in an hour?). Oh please, where do I sign?

Well, if nothing else, watching seventeen leaky-nosed three-year-olds for two and half hours on one of only two days off certainly is torturous enough to prove that you are entirely conciliatory towards the idea of total depravity.  If you punish yourself with these mindless hours of boot licking in between your 60 hour work week, just maybe they’ll notice that you are at least trying.

“How dare you!  For even your trying is sin!  You were steeped in sin from birth!”

“And no.  We didn’t notice.  You are only “doing what is required”.”

At least in mother Russia you just had to shut your mouth and burn down whatever building or books they pointed to.  And you got a gun.  You didn’t have to wash cars for free or man the coffee table at the “marriage retreat” on a perfectly good Saturday in the name of “ministry”.

At any rate, as long as you are not compelled to do it, ministry work is of course not necessarily a bad thing.  Once it becomes a measure of how good a Christian you are, realize that you have been replaced with some one else’s theoretical, subjective idea of what you should be, and think, and believe, and do.  And this is destructive.

14.  ‘Let’s put away our false humility”:  I love how the church leadership thinks they can just tell by looking what is true humility and what is false humility.  It makes me laugh to think of the irony which is found in a mindset so arrogant.  I mean, CJ Mahaney had those guys snowed for decades, and Calvinist pastors still have the gall to get up there and warn about sniffing out your wicked false humility.

Whatev.

What they mean by “false humility” is really only one thing:  the belief that you are actually a person of your own.  False humility is hallmarked by the notion of self-realization; that you own your mind, your volition, your body and time and property.

15.  “Remember, it’s all about Christ”:  Translation?  It’s all about the collective.  If the Senior Pastor says this, what he means (because this is what is explicit in his theology) is:   “It’s all about me.”

16. “Let’s commit to no longer tolerating sin”:  Who is someone who “tolerates sin” according to the governmental structure of the reformed autocracy?  Someone guilty of the capital crime of tolerating sin is someone who refuses-against the explicit command of the collective authority–to banish or destroy those who either question or reject the collectivist assumptions, beliefs, and objectives.

17.  “Church should not be a “comfort zone””:  This means that fear of personal destruction and ruin at the hands of the church autocracy is the primary means of achieving mass compliance.

18.  “We need to agree on the essentials”:  Whatever presuppositions/interpretations/opinions/ideas the church autocracy decides are essential, are the “essentials” to which we all need to agree.  No matter how capricious, irrational, transient or fleeting these “essentials” may be, make no mistake, you will agree to them.  Disagreement is tantamount to mortal sin, and invites church discipline.  It is metaphysically identical to rejecting God’s very eternal and resolute Will.

Generally speaking, however, the “essentials” to which your senior neo-Calvinist pastor is referring to is the categorical and fawning devotion to his doctrinal assumptions.

Aaaaaaand finally, my personal favorite…

19. “The infallible Scriptures”:  The supreme bulwark of the ecclesiastical autocracy’s authority of FORCE, PUNISHMENT, and VIOLENT REPRISAL…not to mention their subjective doctrinal assumptions, opinions, and interpretations, which is rooted in the intellectually questionable and integrity-challenged practice of biblical proof-texting.

Being the very physical embodiment of a purely theoretical absolute–“infallibility”, the bible is metaphysically the fourth Person in the “Trinity”; and the autocratic governors alone have the proper and enlightened understanding of its holy meanings and dictates.  This seals their authority and their divine mandate of force with the resounding pound of a nine-pound railroad hammer.  If you will not listen to them, surely you are not foolish enough–insolent enough–to reject God’s perfect and inerrant Word, and invite the inevitable personal destruction thereof?

Of course not.  Who would?

Oh, right.

Me.

Because I deny their premises at the root; from before the the very first brief pause just prior to the first drawn breath.  And so should you.  Deny what they say; deny what they do; deny their mandate; deny their instruction and their commands; deny their position and their authority over you.  Deny the Marxism implicit in their theology.

And save yourself.

Examining the M in the Enemy’s CAMP: The Implicit Marxism in neo-Reformed Theology (II)

Remember, for the collectivist mentality, there is no TRUTH apart from the group…or, more specifically the small autocratic and wholly self-appointed leadership “team” which rules categorically and unequivocally the collective as a whole.  The true authority, however, almost always resides within the auspices of a single person:  the dictator, whose ideas and opinions are beyond reproach or question.

And this single person, for the local church, is of course the Senior Pastor.  He is and remains fully in charge.  As the pope of the congregation, he is the central and root embodiment of the collective.  There may be some measure of “elder accountability”, or congregational input, but these are paid merely lip service (and not even that in some of the more unabashedly dictatorial local churches), but in a truly neo-Calvinist/neo-Reformed church, there is no one above him.  He is the senior mystic; the chief of the diviners.  Beyond him, there is no one who can claim a greater “grace to perceive”.  This of course is implicit in the gnostic doctrine of Calvinism, and is precisely why Brent Detwiler and all of the former SGM churches (and pretty much any reformed Christian) who have left the group or are leaving the group are rank hypocrites unless they utterly renounce the doctrine they once espoused.  In reality, all of their protestations are farcical and a standing on ceremony for the sake of job security at best.  For they MUST, after decades of slavish devotion to the man, understand that there can be NO condemnation of CJ according to their very theology, because there can be NO greater man between him and God. This is a fact you must accept if you concede the premises which under gird reformed theology.  Particularly Calvinism.

But back to Marxism, and our list:

8.  “We need a transformational approach to life”:  This new “transformational” approach to life is a new metaphysical construct which excludes the individual YOU.  You–somehow; for this cannot really be explain rationally according to their metaphysics–sacrifice yourself, your body, mind and property for the sake of the collective.  In practical terms, this may include doing a lot of mandatory (ministry) work for free, or offering your professional products to the church without any compensation or at a significant discount–an obligatory position you must assume.  You may find yourself paying for food for group meetings, driving people around in your car at your expense, working as a “caregroup” leader, which entails several hours of prep, not to mention the two hours of meeting in your home,  Or just “gifting” 10%–and really, much more than that if you are a “mature” Christian–to God; which means the local church.  Before taxes, preferably.  All of this is your duty, you obligation, and, they tell you, your “joy”.  Because it is a joy to serve God.  And God is your local church; for there is no actual metaphysical distinction.

These kinds of autocratic expectations…this “transformed approach”, is tyrannical, abusive, and destructive to human beings because a single person cannot ever rationally nor practically exist as an abstract, absolute idea like the “collective”.

9.  “Without Jesus, you can do nothing, because He is the vine.”:  This false interpretation of the vine/branches analogy says that you are only real to God if you replace your mind with the mind of the collective.  Which, again, is ultimately the mind of the head pastor. Incidentally, nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say you can do “nothing” apart from Him.  His point is that salvation comes through faith in Christ.  Obviously, you don’t need divine help to read a menu, or cash a check, or blow your nose.  Now, this may seem like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not the one in front of a Plexiglass podium with a glass of water and crocodile tears proclaiming broad and unqualified statements like “you can do NOTHING without Jesus”.  In English, “nothing” means “nothing”. So if you say it, you must explain it.  But they never do.  This is because they like to leave themselves room to back out of taking responsibility for the fallout that so often occurs as a result of their evil message.  They need to reserve the “well, I never really said that” card for the lawyers. That way, if someone takes “God is in control” to mean that they can rape a three year old and rest the sleep of the guiltless because they know that it was “God’s will”, and “all is worked out for good” because He is “sovereign” and nothing happens that “He doesn’t allow’, they can tell the lawyers “Only a crazy person would believe we actually meant that.”  The only problem is, according to their doctrinal assumptions, this is exactly what they meant.  But they can’t admit that to the civil authorities, who do not (yet) accept their world-view.

10.  “Every sin is rooted in pride”:  Besides the fact that this is simply untrue…that there are sins that are not rooted in pride (like gluttony, or love of money…the meaning of pride for these sins must be finely parsed; the argument circular, and they are experts at this), this really means that every sin is rooted in the individual’s denial of the collectivist mindset.  If you disagree with the leadership in any way for any reason your are “sinning” and it is because you are “proud”.  I’d say we’ve all heard this line of bullshit at least once in our Christian lives.  But of course the reason is easy to understand once you understand their utter devotion to totalitarianism.  IF every sin is rooted in pride, then every sin is rooted in YOU.  Get it?  Convenient, huh?  You can never have a good point, or be right, or have truth, because you are the root of EVIL. Nothing good comes from you ever, because YOU are the root of every sin; and this means that there is no functional metaphysical difference between you and sin.  This is why you must adhere to the collective. Only the collective can be good (somehow).  If it’s just you, then it is sin.  Ergo, good luck convincing CJ Mahaney or his Puritanical pals that you are ever right.

11.  “You must maintain your connection to the vine”:  Of course, the Holy Spirit helps us with this; those in Christ do not fall away (unless they want to; a point of disagreement I have with some of my otherwise like-minded Christian friends), and, under metaphysically consistent circumstances, with proper adherence to the context of scripture, this is a fine thing to say.  But in the neo-Calvinist autocracy by now we understand that the rational meaning of scripture is often not what they mean.  What this means is that you must work very hard to maintain your complete devotion to the collective; to the ecclesiastical autocracy.  The best way you can know whether you are properly “grafted” into your collection of overlords-in-the-stead is by gauging the amount of emotional/psychological/spiritual and even physical pain you are in.  In Calvinist circles, pain is the ultimate plumb line for TRUTH.  Why?  Well, that’s an easy one.  You see pain is the single greatest measure of self-denial.  The more you hate yourself, the more you are anxious about your salvation, the more you are recognizing the most important doctrinal assumption in all of reformation AND Catholic theology:  you are bad, bad, bad!  You are totally depraved.  And so the more you force yourself into a life within which it is  impossible for you to conform–a collective, rooted in absolute theoretical constructs which are in no way consistent with physical and observational reality–the more personal destruction and anguish you will endure.  This, of course, creates a quite obvious yardstick by which to measure your commitment to Christ.  The more the pain, the better the Christian.  And that is something which any old ignoramus can grasp.

12. “We recognize diversity in our church, of course.”:  This appeal to “diversity” is a tricky one for them to navigate because I can assure you, the last thing any of these Calvinist oligarchs care about is diversity.  Diversity of people is diversity of opinion, and that will get you a date with Calvin’s stake.  No…no, no, diversity is the last thing they crave.  Just try denying “original sin”, or mention you’d like to do some “expository” preaching on women preachers, or that you’d like to see a good old Arminian revival up in here sometime, and you’ll see the “love” for diversity come out in the form of a map to the door.  Or worse.  I mean, in my church, the new pastor had to be registered republican.  So much for diversity.  Even a libertarian is screwed out of that job.

So, yeah, its dicey.  I mean, they use the whole Pauline notion that the entire  body can’t be a foot or an eye…and they use it to say everyone is “different”.  But first of all, that’s not what Paul is really saying (but since when do they care?), and second, it’s merely more subterfuge intended to make them look flexible and rational.  Which, trust me, they are absolutely not.  After a bit of thought about this, I realized that this whole false notion of accepting differences is really this:  Diversity is simply the manifestation on an individual level of the denial of self in service to the collective.  The purpose of diversity is merely to meet the various needs of the autocratic authority.  After all, they need someone to do the church’s taxes for free, and not everyone can be an accountant, just like not everyone can be the guy who does the landscaping for free, or the guy who cleans the toilets and replaces the urinal cakes for free, or parks cars for free, or installs the sound system for free.

And how “diversity” is properly used in the local church is of course subject to the single-minded opinion of the church autocracy. Thus, the true Calvinist metaphysical definition of diversity is merely “oneness”.  And the oneness is the Marxist collective.

Diversity can never be defined by differing ideas or assumptions or opinions from the leadership on pretty much any subject of depth.  Diversity then is purely superficial in your local neo-Calvinist collective.  Dress, talents, perhaps…but I would like to say NOT socioeconomic status. Those who are wealthy and/or famous or well-known in the community operate under a distinctively palpable separate standard from the rest of the bobbleheaded slobs in the congregation.  I will never forget the two physicians in my SGM church who shot up to the front of the class in a matter of weeks, leading just about whatever ministry their little hearts desired.  Those of us who had been jockeying for positions in those ministries for years didn’t say boo.  Of course the leaders knew better, we told ourselves, with nary a thought of protest (much to our shame).  Why, it was just coincidence that God seemed to “call” those to leadership “roles” who happened to have fat bank accounts.  Merely divine inspiration…purely noble; purely humble.

Purely crap.

But differences on anything any person would consider substantial are never tolerated.  I was shown the door at my recent SGM monstrosity for daring to question the pastor’s devotion to CJ Mahaney.  That was my consolation prize for fifteen years and a hundred thousand dollars to that group.

At any rate, the moral of the “we accept diversity” point is:  beware of thought crimes.  Diversity is not tolerated if it resides behind the eyes.

Please come back for part three!